Lawton: Marek Malik to play Saturday
New Lightning GM Brian Lawton said Wednesday he has "no doubt" defenseman Marek Malik will play Saturday against the Sharks. Lawton, speaking before he boarded a plane to Thursday's GM meetings in Chicago, said Malik's work visa has been secured and his conditioning is such that the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder is ready to play.
Malik still must sign a contract. He has tentatively agreed to a one-year deal believed to be worth between $1-million and $1.2-million.
"It's been really helpful for him not to get thrown in right away," Lawton said. "He hasn't had a training camp, and this gave him a chance to get his feet wet. He's a big man, and the last thing you want to do is have a big guy out there who hasn't had a chance to have a good four, five, six days skating at a very, very high tempo. he's really working hard. I have no doubt he'll be ready for Saturday."
That will make things very interesting around practice the next few days. Adding Malik, and barring any other personnel moves, means one of seven defenseman likely will be scratched against San Jose. With Ward still around, the roster will be at the 23-player limit with forward Ryan Craig (groin) still on injured reserve. How the team handles that little glut, also should be interesting. For now, with Craig still working his way back and the schedule about to kick into high gear, Ward might be considered a hedge against injury.
In any case, Lawton said he is not going to the GM meetings with the intention of making a personnel move.